During the summer, it’s easy for your teens to get out, move and exercise. They head to the pool with their friends, or they sign up for seasonal sports leagues or camps. Now, though, it’s starting to get cold, and their instincts might change. Rather than heading outdoors, they seem to be staying put inside of your home. And you know this isn’t the healthiest choice they could be making.
It’s possible to stay healthy all year long, and it’s a lesson your teenagers should learn. Laying the foundation for healthy choices now will help them stay well through college and beyond. So, guide them with the following four tips to stay active and healthy even in the cold weather:
1. Counter Unhealthy Cravings
Cold weather tends to push us to snack on sweets or carb-laden snacks. Why? Munching on these treats gives us a boost in serotonin, which increases our moods. This side-effect feels especially good in winter when about 9 million people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The lack of sunlight can usher some of us into a temporarily depressive state. A carb-backed boost of serotonin, then, sounds especially good.
If you notice your teen opting for these types of snacks, encourage them to eat healthier with a hearty breakfast, for starters. A protein-packed meal will help them feel fuller for longer. That goes for pre-school breakfast and mid-school lunch – help them choose meals that will keep them satiated and focused. After-school snacks should follow suit, too – hummus and pitta chips would better serve your teen than cookies or potato chips, for example.
2. Promote Hand-Washing
You’re probably thinking, “I already went through this during potty training.” Your child certainly knows the basics when it comes to washing their hands. Still, washing should be more thorough in winter. Your teen should know to wash after every trip to the bathroom, as well as after they sneeze and before they eat.
Make sure your teen washes thoroughly, too – a flash under the faucet won’t do them any good. Instead, they should spend 20 seconds lathering up, taking care to wash between their fingers as well. At the end, dry off with a clean towel or beneath an air dryer. Voila – germs have been destroyed, and sickness will be kept at bay.
You can further bolster your teen‘s immune-boosting hand-washing regimen by putting a bottle of hand sanitizer in their backpack. During class, for example, they can quickly rid their hands of germs without interrupting a lesson to go wash.
3. Encourage Exercise
Even though it’s cold outside, your teen should still be getting in their daily exercise. At this age, your child should get a combination of aerobic and muscle-building activities. Although some experts recommend your teen spends an hour partaking in such workouts daily, even a 30-minute session can impart them with a slew of body-bettering gains.
The physical benefits of exercise for teens tend to be obvious. They strengthen their muscles and bones, keep their weight in check, and reduce the chances of cancer, among other pros. Your child will also reap mental-health benefits, too. They will help fight stress and boost their mood while improving their self-image and self-esteem. For a high-school-aged kid, such a state of mind is vital to their success regardless of the time of year.
4. Stick to Bedtimes
It’s a classic tale – parents try to put their teens to bed, but they don’t want to sleep. So, they stay up scrolling through their phones or watching TV on their iPads. Then, when it does come time to wake up for school, they’re exhausted and unable to concentrate. The cycle continues until the weekend when the teenager sleeps for hours and hours to catch up after an exhausting week.
In winter, sleep becomes even more vital. While we rest, our bodies repair and refresh themselves. For instance, the immune system releases cytokines as we sleep. These proteins step in when we have infections or inflammation – without enough sleep, though, the body can’t produce enough. The same goes for infection-fighting antibodies, which appear in ample numbers when we catch ample Zs.
Therefore, implementing and sticking to a healthy bedtime can do wonders for your teenager, especially in winter. As it turns out, most kids their age need 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night. So, take away iPads at night and have them charge their smartphones outside of their bedrooms. Without distractions, they should be able to get the shut-eye they need for a successful day at school. Their bodies will be stronger against wintertime bugs and colds, too.
Stay Healthy All Season Long
Winter doesn’t have to be a lazy time for your teen. Instead, they can make healthy choices to keep themselves well, fit and focused all the way to spring. The tips they learn now will shape the healthy choices they make for the rest of their lives – all you have to do is show them how to live healthily this winter. And, now, you know just how to do it.